Shiveluch Volcano Plume
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Shiveluch Volcano Plume

October 18, 2012
On October 6, 2012, the restless Shiveluch volcano on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula erupted, sending a plume of ash high over the waters of Kamchatskiy Zaliv, to the southeast. The plume had traveled about 90 km (55 mi) toward the south-southeast, mostly over land. Then a change in wind direction began pushing the plume towards the east and over the Bay (Zaliv).

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this true-color image at 0150 UTC (1:50 p.m. local time). The bright sunshine caused the high plumes to cast shadow on the land and sea as it passed over. That same day, the Kamchatka Volcanic Emergency Response Team (KVERT) reported that the ash plume from Shiveluch reached an altitude of 3 kilometers (9,800 feet) above sea level, and had traveled some 220 kilometers (140 miles) from the volcano summit.

Shiveluch (also spelled Sheveluch) ranks among the biggest and most active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Rising to 3,283 meters (10,771 feet) above sea level, Shiveluch is a stratovolcano composed of alternating layers of hardened lava, compacted ash, and rocks ejected by previous eruptions. The beige-colored expanse of rock on the volcano’s southern slopes (visible in both images) is due to an explosive eruption that occurred in 1964. Part of Shiveluch’s southern flank collapsed, and the light-colored rock is avalanche debris left by that event. High-resolution imagery of Shiveluch shows very little vegetation within that avalanche zone.

On October 6, 2012, KVERT cited observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on Terra and Aqua in detecting the Shiveluch eruption. This was not the first time that MODIS observed a Shiveluch eruption shortly after it started. In 2007, MODIS captured an image within minutes of the eruption’s start, before winds could blow the ash away from the summit.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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